2009-03-27 / Government / Neighborhood

West Columbia Mayor's Roundtable meets March 23

By Benjamin Higgins Higginsb2@yahoo.com

West Columbia Mayor Bobby E. Horton held his monthly Mayor's Roundtable in the New Brookland Room of West Columbia City Hall on Monday, March 23 at 6 pm. City Council members present included Mayor Bobby E. Horton, Mayor Pro- Tem Tommy G. Parler, Eric L. Fowler, L. Dale Harley, and Jack L. Harmon. Members absent were Boyd J. Jones, Marsha Moore, Cathy Shannon, and B.J. Unthank.

The Mayor's Roundtable is a forum for residents and business owners in West Columbia to express their concerns directly to the mayor. There is no set agenda, and minutes are only taken when a quorum of council members (five people in West Columbia's case) are present.

Much of the early portion of the meeting focused on housing issues. Residents in attendance were very concerned that many land owners in the area who rent their properties are not keeping those dwellings up to city code. Mayor Horton reminded residents that city ordinances require buildings to conform to the Southern Building Code. He also discussed a law in Wilmington, Delaware that allows residents to take photos of code violations and report to the city. The mayor noted that West Columbia is in the process of creating a similar law. "We are dealing with that issue in terms of the slumlords," Mayor Horton said.

Developer Julie Cooper announced that her organization's work on condominiums on Violet Street is entering its final phase.

The mayor discussed the city's efforts to help promote the Meeting Street area. "We (West Columbia) are business- friendly. We want to stay business- friendly," Mayor Horton said. Referring to Meeting Street specifically, he added that "We spent some money down there."

Many residents were curious about council's efforts to help beautify the city. The mayor pointed out that a façade grant had been approved for the Triangle City area and streetscaping work would soon go from the Zesto's in Triangle City to Jarvis Klapman Boulevard.

Councilman Harley thought the city should promote the idea of composting and suggested that compost bins to be handed out to residents at the next city banquet.

Mayor Pro- Tem Parler expressed his concern involving the Babcock Center. According to its mission statement listed on its Web site, "Babcock Center, Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1970, serving men and women with mental retardation, autism, head and spinal cord injury, and related lifelong disabilities." Councilman Parler expressed his concern that some of the homes the Babcock Center provides for its clients are too crowded with as many as six to eight people in a single home. Mayor Horton explained that the issue had come up in the past, and state law requires those numbers. Interested readers can learn about the Babcock Center by (803) 799-1970 or visiting www.babcockcenter. org.

Councilman Fowler expressed his frustration over numerous signs that are illegally posted often on the weekends. Mayor Horton stated that the city regularly fines those who put up such signs and will continue to remove them regularly.

The Mayor's Roundtable concluded at 7 pm.

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